Syrians Harm Lebanese Economy with Illegal Businesses

A Lebanese minister recently complained that Syrians openings up illegal businesses in the country are becoming an increasingly large strain on the economy, during a ministerial meeting on the effects of the refugee crisis.

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Caretaker Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour spoke with Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, Trade Minister Nicolas Nahas, Labor Minister Salim Jreissati, and Brigadier General Pierre Salem about various aspects of the Syrian refugees’ lives in Lebanon.

Abu Faour said that the meeting was organized to establish ways to monitor the Syrian refugees economically and regulate the amount of competition they posed to Lebanese businesses and workers.

He noted that one institutional study found a total of 377 stores across 7 towns that were being illegally operated by Syrian refugees, upsetting the local employment balance. While the authorities promised to abide by their responsibilities to care for the refugees, they wanted to make sure that Lebanese businesses could continue to operate despite the population changes.

Labor Minister Jreissati said that locals must make sure they “strictly” abide by foreign worker laws and added, “We will work to prevent illegal competition against the Lebanese, without ignoring the humanitarian aspect [of the refugee issue].”

Interior Minister Charbel complained that Syrians were a major drain on security resources. He said that they were “a burden on the country in social, economic, humanitarian and security terms,” and explained that army and police units were forced to check on refugees regularly to “prevent any terrorist cell from carrying out any acts aimed at disrupting stability.”

He also explained that the Interior Ministry tacitly accepts curfews for Syrians enacted by local municipalities since they are increasingly being targeted by criminals.

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